More Than Conquerors

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37 NIV

A few months ago, a friend betrayed me. The pain slashed shockingly deep into my soul. Never had I imagined that she would take the step she took. Every time I see her name now, I want to cry for the loss of a friendship that was important to me and, I thought, her too.

A few days ago while at a conference, someone was shockingly rude to me on an elevator. She was a stranger to me, and still her  behavior hurt me. Just this morning, when telling my husband about it, the mortification from her words cut into my heart.

My human reaction is to lash back, hurt the other person as I was hurt. How dare this person treat me like this? I want to fight.

Yet I need say nothing, take no action. The fight is already won. Romans 8:38-39 tell us that nothing—NOTHING!—can separate us from the love of God. That means that no matter how rude someone is to us, no matter how many people betray us or snub us or treat us like we are less important than we think we are, We are bonded to the Lord through His great love.

We are more than conquerors. In our hearts, through the one who loved us so much He died for us, we are greater than those who seek to destroy us.

Romans 8:37 has become my life verse because I need this reminder when my humanness wants to lash back at those who hurt me. I don’t need to because Jesus has already paid the price and made me more than a conqueror over the sins of the world that strive to separate me from His love.

Abasing Oneself in Society

 “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 14:11 KJV

(Read Luke 14:7-11.)

This passage often comes to mind when writing about the Regency. The notion of sitting at the lowest place, of abasing oneself in society is an anathema to what we show amongst the peoples of the Regency. Getting the highest honors, marrying the highest ranked man or the richest heiress was what the world was all about, or at least what the world we portray was all about. And yet we write Christian Regencies, which means our characters must have a Christian world view while living in a society that insisted upon promoting one’s social standing and/or wealth—politely, of course. On the one hand, they are not supposed to raise themselves up if they are to be serious followers of Christ. On the other hand, they cannot move through the halls and balls of even the gentry without looking, acting, and simply being the best in an attempt to attract the best.

Rhubarb Restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland allows you to dine regency style today. Seated here, even the lowest place at the table is grand.

As I write my characters, I struggle with this dichotomy for them. And then I think how apropos to today’s society are the struggles of my characters.

Nowadays, everything is about networking. To network, we need to promote and promote and then, for a change, promote some more. Get our names out there for the world to see, recognize, respond to, we’re told. Editors won’t buy books from authors who don’t already have a web presence, etc., etc., etc.

Networking Around the World

Hubris is the word that comes to mind. Extreme pride or arrogance. It’s practically de rigueur for a Regency hero to be that way. Yet how can we have an arrogant hero who is a Christian? How can we as Christians be prideful of our work enough to tell people they should select ours above all others?

I’d like to know the thoughts of others on this subject, as it is something with which I struggle for my characters of my books and within my own character. My conclusion is to put others first, uphold others, place them at the head of the table, and let God take care of the rest.

Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

Portrait of Marie-Julie Clary Queen of Naples with her daughter Zenaide Bonaparte
Robert Lefèvre via Wiki Commons

Kristi here. Have you called your mother today? Probably not. But if your mother lives in the US, she’ll be expecting that phone call Sunday since it is, after all, Mother’s Day. (If she lives in England you should have called on March 18 – hope you did!)

Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday as the characters in our books would have referred to it) was a very important day. Celebrated at least since the 16th century, Mothering Day in England is part of Lent. It is the Sunday when Eating restrictions are relaxed in honor of the feeding of the five thousand. During the Regency (and surrounding periods) it was also when domestic servants were allowed to journey home, often with a gift of cake or flowers, to see their family.

The Importance of Motherhood

Portrait of Countess Shakhovskaya with Daughter
Dmitry Grigorievich Levitzky, via Wikimedia Commons

It doesn’t surprise me that mothers were considered important enough to allow one’s servants to make the sometimes long journeys to visit them. While traditionally and biblically the father is the head of the household, mothers have always been the backbone.

In Proverbs 31, the woman is a wife and mother who does the grocery and clothes shopping, manages investments, stays up at odd hours, does charity work, ensures her family’s comfort and safety, cares for the home, and teaches the children. And she does all of this with honor and wisdom. It is no wonder that “Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her.” Proverbs 31:28

 Blessings on Mothers

1818 portrait of women with children
François Gérard, via Wikimedia Commons

Mothers come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. There are adoptive mothers and foster moms, mothers with one child and mothers with nineteen. Women who don’t have any official claim to the title of mother, but act in that capacity with boundless love.

No matter what the pathway to motherhood, know that God considers it one of the highest callings a woman can receive. He is trusting you with His most precious gift, His very creation. He trusts mothers to protect, raise, and instruct them in how to be effective children of God.

If you are blessed enough to have your mother with you, take some time, holiday or not, to rise up and call her blessed. It’s what she’s done all that work for.

The Imperfection of  The Fallen World

Marie-Louise of Austria with her son „Napoleon II.
By Joseph Franque, via Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, you may not be blessed with the existence of your mother. Whether by illness, age, neglect, or misunderstanding, you may not have a mother to pick up the phone and call. There is good news for you as well.

“As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you.”  Isaiah 66:13

Despite the practice of giving Him a male personification, God is capable of being everything you need, including a mother. We live in a fallen world where mothers make mistakes because they are human. Disease enters their bodies. The grief of losing or never having your mother is deep, but God’s love is deeper.

Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

Caroline Bonaparte, wife of Marshal Joachim Murat, with their kids, 1810
François Gérard, via Wikimedia Commons

Since I became a mother I understand my own so much better. I have days where I call her just to tell her I now realize what an awesome mother she is. It often makes her cry. The reason mothers love those handmade cards and popsicle stick ornaments is because they are reminders that our children think we’re special. There is no greater gift you can give your mother than to tell her thank you.

Maybe you don’t have a mother and God has already filled that void in your life or maybe you have some extra time on your hands. Bless another mother by keeping her kids while she does the grocery shopping or bringing her a meal. Call a new mother up and tell her she’s doing great. Call a broken hearted mother and offer her your shoulder.

Henry Bickersteth, First Baron of Langdale (1783 ~ 1851) is credited as saying, “If the whole world were put into one scale, and my mother in the other, the whole world would kick the beam.”

You are blessed, mothers of the womb and of the heart, for you have become the physical manifestation of God’s arms on earth. Love your children with the love of God and you cannot go wrong.

Happy Mother’s Day

Love VS. Love

Image: kenfotos / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Kristi here.

I love chocolate. I love my husband. I don’t love these things in the same way, though. It’s one of the frustrating things about the English language. We have the word like and we have the word love and there’s nothing in between. I used to think we should introduce the word “loke” into our vocabulary to establish a level between like and love. Then I could say I loke chocolate and I love my husband.

We toss the word love around a lot in the United States. That can’t be said for every other country in the world. I had a friend from England once that got a bit fed up with our usage of it. When someone said, “I love chocolate” my friend would make a face and say “Why don’t you marry it then?” Not terribly original, but it gets the message across.

The thing is we use the same word when we say we love God, and I think that’s a problem. We have just equated God with chocolate. That’s not good. When we take a concept, like love, and weaken it, we begin to lose the power that word can have.

Photo by Jen Smith

How many times have you seen someone say something like this in a book or a movie: “I love him. Well, I don’t love love him. I love him like a brother or a friend or in that I love my dog kind of way. Not that he’s a dog, I just think of them the same.”

Okay, so the part about the dog isn’t ubiquitous, but you get my point.

Jesus had several words for love when He walked the earth. Unfortunately, this distinction is often lost when we translate the Greek into English. Take the following passage from John 21 verses 15-17.

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Feed My lambs,” He told him. A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him. He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.

Two different forms of the word love are used in this passage. Agape and phileo. Agape referred to deep, true, unconditional love while phileo was used more for general love more akin to loyalty and affection. If we take those differences into account, the passage above reads more like this:

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I am your friend.” “Feed My lambs,” He told him. A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I am your friend.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him. He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, are you My friend?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Are you My friend?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I am your friend.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.

Peter was saddened because he had to own up to the fact that he wasn’t giving Jesus the true love that his savior wanted.

What kind of love are we offering Jesus? Do we love Him like chocolate? Our dogs? Our family? Or are we giving Him the ultimate love that He offered to us? Let’s start thinking about the meanings behind our usage of the word “love” so that when we say “I love you, God” we really mean it.